Alberta economy, low dollar hits Calgary's home reno industry on 2 fronts

Experts say some customers are holding off on home renovations amid Calgary's economic uncertainty, while foreign supply costs have spiked with the low dollar. But there is a silver lining.

Some customers delaying projects, while low Canadian dollar drives up costs of foreign supplies

Jonathan Wolframe works at Kings Flooring Solutions in Calgary after being laid off from his oilfield job last year. There's enough work in renovations to keep him busy, but he admits it has slowed down. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

Calgary's economic downturn and the weak Canadian dollar is a double-whammy for the home renovation industry with customers holding off on projects, and the costs of foreign supplies spiking with the exchange rate.

"We certainly have stuff coming in and out, but I think maybe the worst is yet to come," said Jonathan Wolframe, who works at Kings Flooring Solutions after he was laid off from his oilfield job last year. 

"Shortly thereafter the downturn hit and it made it difficult to find other opportunities to fill that void, so here I am."

His father, James Wolframe is the president of the company. He said business keeps humming along because well-off customers are following through with their renovation projects, but he's noticed that many are pulling back. 

"I think there's a lot of hesitation just with the uncertainty."

I think there's a lot of hesitation just with the uncertainty.- James Wolframe, President Kings Flooring Solutions

The low Canadian dollar is the biggest challenge facing home renovations companies, according to Wolframe. 

"Our costs have gone up dramatically in the last year but we're all on the same playing field; its not like its just our store, so that's good for us."

The upside for customers, he says, is that now is a great time to start renovation projects "because you have good quality tradespeople available to you."

"Why wait until the boom is back and everyone is scrambling for good quality tradespeople?" he said.


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